Also included in the top ten were fears over extreme weather, natural disasters, cyber attacks, food crises, "large-scale involuntary migration" and the spread of infectious diseases.
In its annual Global Risks Report 2018, released ahead of its annual meeting next week in Davos, Switzerland, the Forum said employment, governance and infrastructure would be the biggest risks in South Asia. Other threats that especially concern the roughly 1,000 experts in government, policy and business surveyed include cyberattacks, terrorist attacks and data fraud or theft.
Among the survey's respondents, 93 percent said they anticipate worsening political or economic confrontations or frictions between major powers, while almost 80 percent said they expected the risk of military conflict between countries to increase.
"Cybersecurity is the issue most on the minds of boards and executives, given the visibility of state-sponsored attacks in an environment of increasing geopolitical friction", John Drzik, president of global risk at Marsh USA Inc., which contributed to the study, said in an interview.
"When we asked across a range of risks, the ones that came on top were related to geopolitical developments", she said.
What that shows, as outlined in the latest report, is just how much cyber-risks have intensified, particularly in 2017, both in their prevalence and disruptive potential.
In the preview, which would suggest Davos attendees are in for one of the bleaker forums in recent memory, nearly two-thirds of global leaders saw risks intensifying from 2017. "At the same time cyber exposure is growing as firms are becoming more dependent on technology". Extreme weather events were seen as the single most prominent risk.
"Environmental risks, together with a growing vulnerability to other risks, are now seriously threatening the foundation of most of our commons", says Alison Martin, group chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group, in as statement.
"Unfortunately we now observe a "too-little-too-late" response by governments and organisations to key trends such as climate change", said Ms Martin. Climate change and extreme weather remained the greatest concerns of those surveyed.
Klaus Schwab, the founder of the WEF, whose motto is "committed to improving the state of the world", said the world is facing an "inflection point". As a result, 2017 is likely to be the most expensive year on record for insurers.
U.S. President Donald Trump will deliver the closing address at the elite World Economic Forum conference in Davos next week, which focuses on "finding ways to reaffirm global cooperation on crucial shared interests", forum organizers announced Tuesday.
"The expanding economic recovery gives us an opportunity that we cannot afford to waste", said Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum.
Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz, head of the forum's Economic Progress Initiatives, said at the press conference 59% of survey respondents said they thought risks in general will increase in 2018.
The Global Risks Report is compiled by surveying a thousand experts from a variety of government and non-governmental organizations.